Return to Campus Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQs on this page apply to Phase 1 of our return to campus and will be updated as our Return to Campus Roadmap evolves in line with public health advice and University needs so check back regularly.



  • If you wish to be on campus during phase 1 of our return, you are expected to be fully vaccinated (two doses) or have a medical exemption, and that you can provide evidence on request.
  • In accordance with the Public Health Order, unvaccinated staff can only come to work if it is not reasonably practicable for you to work from home. If you are unvaccinated and you wish to work from campus, contact your Dean or Divisional Head to arrange a Work, Health and Safety risk assessment.


  • During this transition phase, only students who are fully vaccinated (two doses) or have a medical exemption are allowed on campus to access campus services and facilities or attend any events or activities arranged by your faculties. You must be able to show evidence of your vaccination status.

The only acceptable medical exemption evidence is a COVID-19 Vaccine Medical Contraindication form completed and signed by your GP.  

If you are on campus during Phase 1 of our return you will need to be able to provide evidence that you are fully vaccinated (two doses) or have a medical exemption


During Phase 1 of our transition period, the vaccination status of individual staff will not be recorded or stored by the University. Managers / Supervisors should not record or store details in any systems. If the University’s position on recording or storing staff vaccination records changes in any way, we will notify you.

Yes, visitors and regular contractors will be required to be fully vaccinated to come onto campus in Phase 1 of our transitional return.

During Phase 1 of our transitional return, you should continue to work and study from home if you are able to do so. 

Encouragingly, our University vaccination survey results indicate that 96% of our staff and 95% of our students are or intend to be fully vaccinated.

If you are involved in UNSW fieldwork during Phase 1 of our return, you are required to be fully vaccinated or have a medical exemption and be able to provide evidence of your vaccination status.

Keeping campus safe

If you test positive to COVID-19, you should notify the University immediately through our COVID-19 Case Notification portal, and ideally also your manager, teacher or supervisor.

The University works with NSW Health and follows their guidance in managing positive cases on campus. We have an established protocol including identifying potential exposure sites, evacuation and deep cleaning of premises, identifying and contacting potential close and casual contacts and communicating to anyone else potentially impacted. If you are not contacted directly about a case on campus, it is because you are not considered a potential casual or close contact and no action is required on your part.

The University will manage COVID-19 outbreaks on campus in line with public health orders and health guidance. Students and staff impacted by a potential exposure on campus will be expected to adhere to any direction by the University at the time and any public health rules that apply to them.

At this stage there is no plan for wide Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) on campus. However, the University is exploring whether Rapid Antigen Testing could be applied in certain situations at the University and will communicate any updates in due course.

Estate Management (EM) is assessing all buildings across the University’s campuses to identify the best method or combinations of methods to improve the indoor air quality and volume of outside air flowing into indoor spaces to help reduce the risk that virus particles maybe circulating.

In the short term:

  1. For buildings or spaces with operable windows e.g., Chancellery – occupants will be advised to open windows when they are present. Note that this will likely impact the internal comfort conditions in the building. 
  2. For buildings with central air conditioning e.g., Mathews Building – outside air intakes will be opened further to increase the volume of outside air. This may lead to changes in the internal comfort conditions of these spaces, but as normal occupancy is achieved over time, the systems will be adjusted to improve the working conditions. 
  3. For older buildings without central air conditioning or spaces without access to operable windows – where physical distancing can not be achieved, EM will install mobile HEPA filter units each capable of servicing a room of up to 100m2. Subject to delivery of HEPA units, we anticipate installation by the end of 2021.

In the longer term, and where possible:

  1. Implement fresh air purge events to spaces with high occupancy levels prior to and following normal operating hours.
  2. EM are investigating the roll-out of CO2 monitors across campus to spaces with high occupancy levels. Implementation will be subject to availability and lead time for installation.
  3. EM will look to improve HVAC air filtration performance to the highest degree permissible without significantly impacting system air flow.
  4. Investigate the installation and effectiveness of new supplementary air treatment technologies such as San-Air purifiers and Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI).

While these initiatives can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, it is not possible for heating, ventilation an air conditioning systems alone to eliminate the risk. The most beneficial measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in indoor spaces is following Public Health recommendations i.e wearing masks, physical distancing, reduced occupancy levels, reduced activity levels, washing hands, wiping surfaces clean and following the Public Health Orders.

The Physical Distancing Compliance Officers will be continuing on campus to encourage staff and students to observe physical distancing and mask wearing.

All staff and students are expected to observe the new policies and procedures the University is putting in place. If staff or students do not follow these rules, they will be asked to leave the campus. Refusal to follow a reasonable direction of the University will be handled via standard University policy or procedure.

Returning to campus

Students should continue to access classes/study from home.

Staff who can effectively work from home should continue to do so for the time being. If you do need to work from campus because you cannot work from home, you can seek permission from your Dean or Divisional Head. If you received permission to be on campus prior to 11 October, you will need to seek permission again. Further details on how to do this will be communicated directly by your local area.

Note that density requirements and business continuity considerations during our transitional return will mean that not everyone who may want to come back will be allowed to do so.

If you are given permission to return, you must also comply with any rules under the public health orders that are in place, including any requirements for travel permits, if applicable, to work outside of your LGA.

Until 1 December, density requirements for all indoor spaces on campus will be 1 person per 4 square metres. This means that during the transitional phase not everyone who may want to come back to campus will necessarily be allowed to do so.

While there is every intention to return to as much in-person teaching and learning as possible from Term 1 2022, many students will still be unable to attend campus in 2022 and online and in-person options will continue to be provided where required. Further work will be undertaken to determine the framework for teaching in 2022. Any arrangements will also be subject to public health orders.

Face masks

We strongly encourage you to wear a mask at all times when indoors on campus, especially if you cannot physically distance.

In line with NSW health rules, a face mask is mandatory in various situations including the following:

  • in an indoor area of premises other than a place of residence. On campus this includes libraries, retail outlets, recreation facilities, UNSW Health Service, rooms and labs for study, for teaching, and for research
  • in an indoor area on common property for residential premises for e.g., indoor common areas of residential colleges on campus
  • on public transport or at a public transport waiting area
  • working at a hospitality venue and dealing directly with members of the public 

Where a face mask is mandatory, there are times when you can remove your face mask when indoors, such as when no other person is in the area, and the full list of situations can be found in the latest Public Health Order.

In teaching, learning, research or operational situations, where a Safety Risk Assessment has determined that physical distancing cannot be maintained, an appropriate face mask must be worn. In these situations, if a face mask is not already part of your Personal Protective Equipment, please see further information from your supervisor.

Rules around the wearing of face masks continue to be updated as the COVID-19 situation evolves, please visit the NSW Health website for the latest information.

Cloth masks are appropriate for general use with surgical masks (or equivalent) required in laboratory settings or settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

No. Staff and students should have their own supply of masks to use on campus. If for any reason you forget to bring a mask you can purchase one from the IGA, pharmacy or post office on campus.

If masks are already a standard component of your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), then they may be supplied by UNSW. Please check with your supervisor.

Building access and facilities

Yes, during phase 1 of our return, all buildings will continue in secure mode.

In the event of an emergency, the building alarms will operate as normal, and UNSW Security will arrive. However, students and staff will need to monitor the alarms and self-evacuate accordingly.

  • Alert alarm is Beep, Beep, Beep
  • Evacuate alarm is Whoop, Whoop, Whoop

Go to your nearest exit and head to the emergency assembly area. Leave personal belongings behind.

The Law Library will be open, and some outside study spaces will be open. The Main Library will remain closed.

For those staff who have permission to be on either the Kensington or Paddington campuses they can park in the designated UNSW Permit Holder bays, without being charged or fined. However, you will need to register that your vehicle will be onsite. If you have a current UNSW Staff vPermit, you do not need to do anything.

If you don’t have a current UNSW Staff vPermit, you can register for a Phase 1 vPermit at no cost by following the instructions below:

  • Go to
  • Register as a user.
  • Select ‘Phase 1 UNSW Staff Permit’ from the ‘My Permits’ option and follow the prompts.

While the previously advised CelloPark app can continue to be used to register each time you park, for ease of use of staff, the new vPermit system only requires the initial registration, reducing the requirement to register each time a staff member parks.

Paid parking for contractors, NSW Health workers and visitors will continue to operate. 

Events and gatherings

No. Graduation ceremonies have been postponed and we hope to re-schedule for early 2022. Further information will be provided in due course.

Guidance for events and activity will be communicated shortly. In the meantime, if you are planning an event on campus, you can contact the Safe Return Team – – for your event to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

No student led events will be allowed during the Phase 1 transition.

Yes. Any events and activities allowed on campus will require a COVIDsafe plan in place in line with public health orders. Please speak with the

We encourage teams to organise end of year staff parties to celebrate the end of this particularly challenging year. All gatherings must comply with public health orders on gatherings. You should ensure that COVIDsafe food and hygiene measures are observed at all times. 

Flexible Working

The University is currently reviewing the Flexible Work Policy in the context of the current situation and will communicate further details on shortly.

There will be no requirement for you to return to campus during our transition phases unless you are a critical worker.

Work arrangements for 2022 will be subject to any public health orders and any flexible work arrangements will need to be consistent with our new flexible work policy and in agreement with your manager. Details of our flexible work policy will be communicated shortly.

Leave/Travel & Fieldwork

The carer’s leave provision has been extended until schools return to full capacity.

Information on COVID-19 leave arrangements can be found on the HR Hub.

Leave arrangements for staff who have exhausted their sick leave balances will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

During phase 1 of the transitional period, only intra-state work-related travel is allowed and must only be undertaken in line with our travel guidance and any public health orders.  

We also ask that you do not confirm any plans for interstate or overseas work-related travel beyond December 1 until they have been considered and approved by your manager or supervisor. All work-related travel will need to be accompanied by a plan which includes a brief risk assessment, confirms necessary insurances are in place, and any required quarantine arrangements are understood.

While you are allowed to book your ticket, you should ensure it is a fully flexible fare that offers a refund or credit if travel cannot proceed or if a date needs to change, as we cannot guarantee you will be given permission to travel. A decision on whether you will be allowed to travel will be made closer to the time in consideration of risks, DFAT rules and health guidance. Note that UNSW travel insurance does not cover any DFAT level 4 locations and any DFAT level 3 and 4 locations are automatically reviewed by the travel risk team. For more information contact

While you are allowed to book your ticket, you should ensure it is a fully flexible fare that offers a refund or credit if travel cannot proceed or if a date needs to change, as we cannot guarantee you will be given permission to travel. A decision on whether you will be allowed to travel will be made closer to the time in consideration of risks, DFAT rules and health guidance. Note that UNSW travel insurance does not cover any DFAT level 4 locations and any DFAT level 3 and 4 locations are automatically reviewed by the travel risk team. For more information contact

If you are currently residing outside of Australia, and wish to conduct fieldwork outside of Australia, you should complete the fieldwork risk assessment form and email it to for the risk team to consider your request.

UNSW is assessing when and under what conditions exchange programs will re-commence with Partner universities and will communicate details as soon as we have further information.